SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — With the storm window open for Northern and Central California for much of the next week, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is ready to respond to the adverse weather.
That effort includes an all-hands-on-deck approach to storm readiness.
The company’s in-house meteorologists produce and update weather forecasts several times a day to provide the locations and timing of severe weather across PG&E’s 70,000-square-mile service area.
With those forecasts, the company’s Electric Operations and Vegetation Management teams spring into action, making sure that crews and materials are in the right place at the right time as wet and windy weather nears.
And, if storms cause customer outages, local storm emergency centers are staffed to help prioritize the restoration efforts of our electric and vegetation crews.
PG&E uses the latest technology to help us restore power safely and more quickly after a storm. This includes the installation of automated equipment that “self-heals” the grid as well as timely and accurate outage data from our SmartMeter network. Additionally, PG&E routinely practices its preparedness and response to storms and other emergencies through company exercises and through drills with local first responders.
Components of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program, such as hundreds of weather stations, devices that break up circuits into smaller segments to ensure smaller outages and power lines and stronger, more resilient poles all benefit the company’s storm response.
The series of storms will begin arriving tonight, bringing rain, mountain snow and strong winds up to 45 mph to northern areas, and moving to the central areas of the state on Wednesday. Another storm will likely bring another round of rainy and windy conditions across the region Thursday and Friday, with another stronger storm system expected Sunday into Monday.
“We experienced a very dry and smoky summer. We welcome the rain, but we will be ready in case it affects our electric system. We’re urging our customers to have a plan for themselves and their families as we work to restore outages safely and as quickly as possible,” said Scott Strenfel, director of meteorology and fire science.
PG&E’s meteorology team uses a Storm Outage Prediction Model that incorporates real-time weather forecasts, coupled with 30 years of historical storm data and system knowledge to accurately show where and when storm impacts will be most severe. This model enables the company to pre-stage crews and equipment as storms approach to enable rapid response to outages.
Customers can get updates on outages in their neighborhood through a variety of channels: They can contact our outage information line at 1-800-743-5002. They can access our Electric Outage Map online at pge.com. Customers also can log-in to their account through pge.com and sign up to receive proactive outage alerts through email, text or phone
And just as PG&E prepared for wet weather, we want our customers to take the necessary steps to be prepared and stay safe.
Storm Safety Tips
- Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 9-1-1 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
- Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
- Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals, and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
- Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
- Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
- Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
- Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug, or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.
Other tips can be found at www.pge.com/beprepared.
PG&E, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.